The philosophy of Materialism dates back at least to the Atomistic Theory of Leucippus
in 5th century BC, and later elaborated by Democritus. But until the late 19th century
there was no physical evidence to support the hypothesis of a hard bottom line to
reality . The name atom, meaning "uncuttable", implied that the dissections of
analytical science could go no further after those eternal, indestructible building
blocks of reality were found. As a metaphorical foundation for physical existence,
the monadic A-tom appealed to material-minded philosophers and scientists. Yet ironically,
the entities we now call "atoms" have been found to be far from fundamental.
In a premature fulfillment of the Atomic prophecy, the larger corpuscles we currently
refer to as "molecules" were discovered and assumed to be elementary to physical
reality. So the smallest chunks of matter that have distinctive chemical properties
were confidently labeled "elements". But even those microscopic "bodies" succumbed
to the scientific knife as ever smaller slices of elementary matter were discovered.
Undeterred by that first swing & miss, and optimistic that their age-old search was
near an end, scientists bestowed upon these sub-molecular tidbits the name of the
legendary holy grail : "atom". And they remain to this day the lowest form of physically-distinctive
Unfortunately, as soon as the chemists produced empirical evidence to support the
ancient atomic hypothesis, those sub-microscopic specks also began falling apart
under the relentless pressures of reductive science. New evidence indicated that
the mislabeled "atoms" were composed of even tinier components that are invisible
to the eye, and almost below the threshold of imagination. So more names were coined
to suit the characteristics of chemically-active “electrons” surrounding a nucleus
of “protons” and “neutrons”. Then, as their tools cut closer to the quick, those
minute "particles" were found to have diminutive particles of their own.
Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite'm,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so on, ad infinitum!
At that point in the history of science, it became clear that what we normally perceive
as solid matter is actually 99% empty space, with only minuscule wisps of matter
and energy to provide substance. But even those almost non-existent material components
of an atom were found to be surprisingly insubstantial themselves. The indeterminacy
theorem forced Quantum mechanics to treat electrons, not as solid balls of stuff,
but as fluffy "clouds of mathematical probability". In calculations of their position
and velocity, those same little fuzz-balls had to be abstracted even further to "dimensionless
points". Yet by definition, a coordinate point with no measurable extension into
space, does not really exist in any common sense---especially in the original sense
of materialism .
But the story of the vanishing atom doesn't end there. With high-tech atom smashers,
the elementary atom can be blasted into a plethora of sub-atomic particles : quarks
of various flavors, leptons, hadrons, and so on. No one has ever seen a quark though,
and no one ever will, because they can't even exist apart from the invisible particle
they compose. And after all that particle penetrating, the theorists still haven't
touched bottom. Currently, one-dimensional strings are the latest candidates to fit
the glass slipper of the prophesied "atom". After 20 years of number-crunching and
particle smashing though, no physical evidence to support the string theory has been
Meanwhile, rather than abandon the crumbling ancient myth of Materialism, quantum
physicists continued to search for evidence of particles of energy. But energy is
even harder to pin down than semi-solid matter. By definition, energy is inherently
mercurial, unstable and transitory. Technically, a quantum of energy is not a physical
object, but an "action potential". If "potential" sounds suspiciously like "probability",
that's probably because both refer to future events, not to right-here-right-now,
put-your-finger-on-it matter. So both matter and energy in the current paradigm of
science have proven to be as fantastic as fairies.
Therefore, I have concluded that there must be a good reason for the frustrating
phenomenon of the shrinking atom. Perhaps, just as the metaphors of quantum theories
suggest, matter is ultimately made of something invisible and intangible. But what
could that be? Taking the mathematical definition of an electron as a dimensionless
point in space, I propose that matter---and energy too for that matter---is really
a condensed form of a truly elemental "substance" : the invisible, intangible, dimensionless
stuff we think with : ordinary information. As a noun, Information is an object of
thought, a mental pattern; as a verb, it is an action potential, a creative act;
as an adjective, it is a quality or attribute, a meaning; as an adverb, it is a modifier
of action, a prolonged process. ●
. . . the principles of material realism are metaphysical postulates. They are assumptions
about the nature of being, not conclusions arrived at by experiment.
—- Amit Goswami
The Self Aware Universe
Heisenberg thought Plato was nuts . . . but he was fascinated with Plato’s basic
tenet that one can never understand the universe until the smallest components of
matter are known.
—- Leon Lederman
The God Particle
LAWS OF IN-FORMATION . . . underlying the fundamental laws of the universe are information theory axioms rather than waves or particles.